The British Army stayed out of the fight in Basra last March because of a secret agreement struck with the Mahdi Army, The Times reports.
I have no doubt the Brits cocked up, but I’m not totally comfortable with the Times’ sources, which seem flimsy. (I haven’t trusted the once-great newspaper after they declared Maliki’s pseudo-operation in Mosul “the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror”.)
I don’t seem to find anyone in the Basra story who actually has any first-hand knowledge of a deal. Instead, there’s a lot of opinion and hearsay. As expected, the Americans don’t waste the chance to play holier-than-thou:
Lieutenant-Colonel Chuck Western, a senior US Marine advising the Iraqi Army, told The Times: ‘I was not happy. Everybody just assumed that because this deal was cut nobody was going in. Cutting a deal with the bad guys is generally not a good idea.’
Yes, bribing and arming thugs and murderers is indeed a very very very bad idea.
May I humbly suggest that sanctimoniusness is hereby declared an offense under the Military Code of Conduct?